Book Review: “The Church History ABCs”

Crossway Books recently provided me with a copy of The Church History ABCs by Stephen J. Nichols and Ned Bustard. I have to say, I am very impressed with this book. It gives a brief background on 26 important players in church history, from Augustine to Zwingli, and many well-known (and not-so-well-known) characters in between.

I love the idea of this book. I’ve been looking for ways to introduce my children to some other important names in the church, other than Martin Luther (of course), but there aren’t a whole lot of resources that touch on these men and women of faith. So, I was very impressed to find a children’s book that doesn’t shy away from names like Hippolytus and Tertullian–I have longed believed that if you start giving children information when they are very small, even if it seems above their comprehension level, they will pick up on it, and it will be that much easier for them to process more complex information when they are older. I was very happy to see that there were harder names, and challenging stories, and not just simple ones.

I will say that I was puzzled by the inclusion of some people–I don’t know if it’s just because I was unfamiliar with some of them (like Absalom Jones), or because I have never viewed them as church heroes before (like Lady Jane Grey), but there were names that didn’t seem to fit as well with the others. For the most part, though, I thought there was a good variety of people from different times and places in church history, mostly names that *should* sound familiar, but are often not quite remembered.

I do wish this book was written for a slightly older audience. This book follows the same format as many ABC books–while the focus is on one individual (A for Augustine), and there is a brief paragraph about his or her life, there is another goal to the book–teaching very young children the alphabet. So, in addition to Augustine, we also read that “A is for apricot, and apple, as well as Augustine–Africa’s ancient bishop.” This is great for preschoolers, but I would love something a little more in-depth for early elementary students, that does a little less alphabetizing, and a little more historical information.

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